It takes about 150 flowers to produce one gram of dried stigmas, and tens of thousands to make one ounce, so a backyard grower like me, with at present about 6000 corms, will never be wealthy!
Saffron is the most beautiful crop imaginable. To glance across the magnificent purple flowers each day, to breathe the delicate perfume as you work among them, is a delightful task.
No wonder saffron is by far the most expensive spice in the world. Hand planted at just the right depth for your area, hand fertilized with your selected organic choice, protected with anything you discover that works, saffron becomes an expression of your caring for it and for those who depend upon it for their food and medicinal needs. And by the way,
Pricey stuff, and why
Consider the expenses of the bulbs themselves, the weeding, the labour required to gather the flowers.
But that’s not the end of it.
There’s the business of actually separating the precious stigmas, each three being joined by their pale yellow style.
Now you come to another ethical necessity - trimming each of the latter.
The style part is not of any use, but it is almost half the size of the precious three red stigmas.
Think how temptingly this affects the weight, and the price, if it is left on the stigmas!
Finally the three bright red stigmas must be dried and then packed into appropriate dark containers.
Check out the differences!
Processing and the temptation!
Be warned. Not all saffron sold is equal in quality.
At one time shady saffron suppliers were burned at the stake with their adulterated saffron to discourage this practice.
Sadly, because saffron is so expensive, opportunities abound for unscrupulous producers to adulterate their products, undercut others by offering amounts at cut rate prices to unsuspecting customers. This is particularly sad when buyers are anxious to use it for medicinal purposes.
This is not true saffron
Look for the telltale yellow threads among the red stigmas.
A true saffron grower never has to advertise it as being "all red". It just is.
- If you put saffron threads in water the colour takes some time to develop its amazing yellow colour. The fake stuff will immediately start to colour the water. After some time you will actually see how some of the fake threads totally lose their color. (See the above slideshow)
- You can use a small amount of baking soda in water. Pure saffron will slowly color the water yellow. Fake stuff will make it turn a dim red.
Saffron is amazing! a tiny bit of the pure spice goes a long way! Hopefully this information will be of help in guiding you as you purchase it.